Differences mar EU-Africa summit

Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe yesterday hit back at a group of four "arrogant" European countries for criticising his human rights record, saying democracy only came to Africa in the post-colonial era.

Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe yesterday hit back at a group of four "arrogant" European countries for criticising his human rights record, saying democracy only came to Africa in the post-colonial era.

"Africans fought for human rights from oppressive rule," Mugabe said in a speech at an EU-Africa summit in Lisbon.

"There was no democracy in Zimbabwe for nearly a 100 years and we had to fight for one person, one vote."

Mugabe criticised the "arrogance from the EU side", saying a so-called gang of four - Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden - had no right to claim a better understanding of the situation in Zimbabwe than the African Union and the Southern African Development Community.

After what Portugal described as a no-holds barred debate, leaders of the two continents put their names to an Africa-EU strategic partnership agreement so that they may interact on "a new, strategic level".

They vowed "to move away from a traditional relationship and forge a real partnership characterised by equality and the pursuit of common objectives" and which "capitalises on the lessons of the past".

Portugal's prime minister Jose Socrates said the often-troubled history between the two continents had entered a new era.

But despite the declaration on a "shared vision" for the future, the summit was witness to starkly different viewpoints over issues such as human rights and immigration, with the shadow of colonialism preventing any display of real warmth.

X